Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as revenge, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
It is not for the Offender that we forgive, it is for ourselves. Forgiveness sets us free, allows us to transform negative energy into a positive experience. The offender does not even need to be aware of the forgiveness as that has nothing to do with the positive energy experienced by forgiving an offense.
The first paragraph in this post is a dictionary definition for the word Forgiveness and I find it meaningful that it includes the word victim in as it does. In order to forgive we must first feel we were wronged, which includes transference of responsibility and means we choose a victim position in order to “feel” wronged. So then forgiveness can be a tool by which we release the position of victim, and choose a more powerful place from which to experience the moment.
That being the case, I think I will embrace the thought “Who can I forgive today?”
The world as we see it, is in my opinion nothing more than a series of stories, and as such, the creators of stories begin with a conclusion and seek proof, because being right strokes the ego. So when we hear a story that can be seen as “more proof” of whatever the original conclusion is, it drives home how “right” we are and has the potential to send us into a tirade of “RIGHTeousness” during which we can become genuinely offended by anyone who would suggest to the ego that the story is not true, or that there is more than one truth, or that the story is just a story…
It does not even matter who tells us the story…
So… when an event takes place, those on one side of a conclusion reach for the data that speaks to the ego, and those on the other side (of what appears to be only a two sided issue) do the same thing and seek the data that speaks to the ego. Neither are seeking intimacy, neither are seeking to learn, both are responding to the demands of the ego and become vehemently willing to defend their own position, as that serves to reinforce the ego.
As a result, neither party ever looks for a third possibility, let alone many more possible stories which in the end may be just as likely.
In the end, when we see something as “proof”, or “Plain as day”, or even as just being “right” we should be wary, for surely this “proof” is just being “right” and so serves nobody but ourselves.
“Human beings are – Pleasure seeking, pain avoiding robots, compulsively driven to prove themselves right” – Carol Reynolds
I have been thinking about Social Media a great deal lately, both because I am speaking around the country on Social Media and Marketing though Social Media and I have some conclusions about why Social Media in its many forms is so popular in the world.
If we take a look at people and assume that more people have a “Not OK” existential or psychological position as described in transactional analysis, and if we assume that it is BECAUSE of this position that people are reluctant to engage in intimate communication with others, then we can take a short jump and also make the assumption that the barriers to connecting with people in a real way are only present when we as people have to interact with others in intimate ways. The further we distance ourselves from the communication, the more comfortable we get with the interaction. This means that Social Media, as a way of communicating is equal to text messaging at creating distance while still actually communicating, and this ALONE will make Social Media incredibly popular with the majority of people.
Now lets add to that by suggesting that Social Media is ALSO a fantastic time structuring tool, which lets us busy ourselves for as little or as much time as we like without being intimate in any way, with anybody. What could be more attractive to someone fearing intimacy?
I think that Social Media tools allow people to create the illusion of intimacy, with larger groups of people in a way that is strikingly similar to the connection maintained by online gaming enthusiasts. Facebook or Twitter could be looked at very easily as the online game of non-gamers. The tools allow us to form groups without intimate connection, interact with celebrities of all kinds, communicate in non-intimate ways with people who are friends, as well as those who are really not, but are called “Friends” or “Followers” both of which are appealing, but perhaps a bit misleading terms when we look at the groups that we form as a whole.
So Social Media I think, combines the ability to form and maintain groups with which a person can interact, from a distance and in non-intimate ways, preserving the illusion of connection but without the actual risks or rewards of intimacy, and lets us structure our communication so that we can look at ourselves as powerful and potent individuals by removing the fear that many deal with in face to face or group interactions.
This combination is as potentially devastating as it is powerful, in that it provides a seductive tool that feeds the ego while increasing the lack of intimacy for many. It might be wise to use caution with our new toys, to check in with ourselves and see if we are still connecting in real ways with the people around us, or if in fact we are creating more and more distance.
For now I think we will all have to be our own judge.
I was reading a post on the Facebook page of my dear friend Samara, whom I love dearly, and she said that she “hated duty, and this place.” and was reminded of a story.
One of my favorite stories actually – I post it here now in its complete form. They are not my words, but there are so many credits listed in the world for it, that I fear I do not know who wrote it originally. Therefore I credit the original author whomever they may be.
The Monk and The Travelers
One day a traveler was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another. As he walked he noticed a monk tending the ground in the fields beside the road. The monk said “Good day” to the traveler, and the traveler nodded to the monk. The traveler then turned to the monk and said, “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?” “Not at all,” replied the monk. “I am traveling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley, and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?”
“Tell me,” said the monk, “what was your experience of the village in the mountains?”
“Dreadful,” replied the traveler. “To be honest I am glad to be away from there. I found the people most un-welcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly. I was never made to feel part of the village no matter how hard I tried. The villagers keep very much to themselves, they don’t take kindly to strangers. So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?”
“I am sorry to tell you,” said the monk, “but I think your experience will be much the same there.”
The traveler hung his head despondently and walked on.
A few months later another traveler was journeying down the same road, and he also came upon the monk.
“Good day,” said the traveler.
“Good day,” said the monk.
“How are you?” asked the traveler. “I’m well,” replied the monk. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to the village in the valley,” replied the traveler. “Do you know what it is like?”
“I do,” replied the monk. “But first tell me—where have you come from?”
“I’ve come from the village in the mountains.” “And how was that?” “It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could, but I am committed to traveling on. I felt as though I was a member of the family in the village. The elders gave me much advice, the children laughed and joked with me, and people were generally kind and generous. I am sad to have left there. It will always hold special memories for me. And what of the village in the valley?” he asked again.
“I think you will find it much the same,” replied the monk. “Good day to you.” “Good day and thank you,” the traveler replied, smiled and journeyed on.
Recently a wonderful opportunity was presented and I was reacquainted with an old friend, a tool that has lead me through countless changes and one that continues to point out the little things that I need to work on . That tool of course is feedback.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to discount feedback from others when it does not feel great? Sure sometimes the feedback feels wonderful, and we take that information and believe it straight away, reinforcing the oh so wonderful view of ourselves that we have, but that exact same person can share something that is constructive, but perhaps a bit harsh, and we immediately begin to rationalize the information, or completely dismiss it as false, or worst case, decide that the person is not even a friend of ours if they would make up such lies…
Yet negative feedback can be the only way to identify parts of ourselves that we might wish to change, the view from the outside looking in after all, is nearly always very different than the view from the inside looking out. (I assure you it is in my case).
One example of this is found in another useful little tool that has been around for a very long time called a Johari Window This little guy is a diagram of both self, and also groups and it shows the four areas of perception which are listed below.
The diagram looks like this;
In this image, the lines dividing each of the areas is equal, however this is nearly never an accurate representation, we as people who are in relationship with others, typically have a great deal of stuff that is not in the open. The following is an example of a new team member for example.
As you can see, the Open/Free area is very small, while the remaining areas are larger. This group dynamic will never function at high levels, unless something is changed, and that work is all about communication. In order to change both ourselves, and the group dynamic, we need to exchange information.
The only way to decrease the Hidden area, is to reveal information to others.
The only way to decrease the Blind area is to accept feedback from others (a bit tricky as we have already established.)
The only way to decrease the Unknown area is through discovery, a process that becomes easier and easier as the other areas are reduced, and the Open/Free area becomes dominant as shown below.
The primary focus of our topic today, is feedback, and the use of feedback as a tool for change. So lets focus on that for a moment, and here is the key. Harsh feedback can be difficult for us to take, and you have to prepare your mind to receive it.
In order to prepare your mind for negative feedback, the kind that might actually reveal parts of yourself that you are blind to… you have to solicit the information. Yep, you have to ask for it. You see if you ask for the feedback, and you prepare yourself to hear some things you dont like, you have a much higher chance of believing it, and then changing that part of yourself through whatever process works best. Sometimes its just repeatedly receiving the feedback, and other times you have to take on new challenges, or work differently in order to change whatever it is, that we want to change.
Say for example that you believe you are funny when you make sarcastic comments, but when you ask a group of peers, you get feedback that suggests you are offensive. Because you asked for the information, you take it to heart and over time, you begin to notice that the sarcasm is not appreciated by others, and that they perceive you as thinking you are better than them. You decide to take the feedback and change this behavior, and you stop making sarcastic comments. Shortly thereafter, you begin to notice that people seem happier to hang out and speak with you, and that you have better relationships.
This example is very basic and short, and often the things about ourselves that we want to change are not so obvious, but it serves to illustrate the example.
The bottom line, is that feedback is an incredibly powerful tool for showing you things about yourself that you may not even be aware of, and to increase its effectiveness you have to ask for the feedback.
Try it, each time I do, I am in the end happy with the changes that I have made, and I feel like I have grown. My hope is that your experience is the same.
What do you see when you look at the people around you?
What do you look for would be a better question
Do you see greatness? Or is it something less, faults, flaws, failures, weaknesses, etc. What does that say about you?
What does it mean that you see less than greatness around you?
If you look for and see the greatness in others, it can change you. If you share that vision, it can change them.
As an exercise try this – write down the greatness that you see in everyone that you know. Make a list of each and every person that you know and then identify how they are great, identify the quality of greatness that is in them.
Try to spend an entire day, seeing only greatness, try again and again until you make it the whole day. I am willing to bet, that if you make it a whole day, the way you feel at the end, and the results that you get from that day, will get you to try a week, or a month…
I love the following quote, it really sums it up
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer
Many of you have a set of tools that you want to put into action. Many of you have goals and want to make a difference in your world but for some reason, you are waiting. Or, you have taken the first steps but you are not all the way in yet, not 100%
What is it that you are waiting for?
Is it for another to inspire you?
Is it fear?
Fear of failure, or success, or what people will think of you?
What would it feel like for you to be 100% in your own power?
What could be accomplished if you just stood up and acted?
What would be gained if you just ignored that voice that keeps you silent?
Do not wait for those around you to be ready, they are ready now.
Do not wait to feel better or stronger, you only feel that way AFTER THE ACTION
Do not wait for someone to give you permission to be powerful, you already have it
Do not wait for someone to give you authority, the leader is often not the person with the most authority
Do not wait – Act!
Make a difference
When you really think about it – Fairness is inherently a victim thought. That is to say, that there can be no lack of fairness, without a victim.
Sometimes it is the victim who points out the lack of fairness, in the form of a complaint. “This is not fair”, “That is not fair” without completing the sentence in a way that would reveal the underlying victim thought. A more complete way to say this would be “This is not fair-TO ME” or “That is not fair-TO ME”, and so by finishing the thought, we reveal the victim.
Sometimes it is another who points out the lack of fairness by indicating in some way that this or that is not fair TO ANOTHER, and this is also a dramatic thought because it implies that the person who it is not fair to, is in fact being victimized in some way. Say for example that the father of two children walks in and proclaims that his Son can have Ice Cream, while his daughter cannot – with no reason whatsoever. This is a great example because it lets us look at the situation and ask;
If you follow this chain, you will probably conclude that this is all very subjective, and depends entirely on our perspective.
What if the daughter hates ice cream (or liver) and when the announcement is made she feels joy?
Another name for the Drama Triangle is the Three faces of Victim… So whomever identifies the lack of fairness, might just be experiencing drama.
One person I spoke with, said that he never really experienced a feeling of “that’s not fair”, but instead always saw it as a learning opportunity. He would see the result that he wanted, and would go about making sure that the next time the same circumstances came up, that he would be in the position that he wanted to be in . Seen this way, does fairness exist?
Other than as a construct in our minds, does fairness truly exist?
There may be many arguments for this question, and they may hold weight that has not been identified. I acknowledge that completely without entering into a discussion on it – but for the purpose of this posting, I believe that the following questions are the best place for us to start, at least for ourselves;
Once we place ourselves in the position of power, and acknowledge that we have the power to create change in our own lives, the victim is removed, and the drama fades away.
In the end its our call, each and every one of us, each and every time.
Fairness is one of the most interesting thoughts, and it seems to be one of the primary causes of drama I think. I have in other writings or videos talked about how we create lower standards by seeking fairness, and how the chase to make things fair, sometimes leads us astray.
This time I want to just talk about fairness. Most of the time I think, fairness pops up as a lack of fairness rather than a sense of fairness, and when this happens, the most common reaction to the lack is to fall into victim thinking about how its “not fair” and how it should not be that someone else, has what we so obviously should also have, or have instead of…
This is a particularly dangerous road to go down because once a person decides that they are helpless to obtain what it is that they want, they will instead follow one of two or more darker paths. Obviously the healthy and responsible path to follow once a person has determined that one wants a thing, is to just go about getting it. This however seems to be the rarest of paths that we take. Instead, we follow a darker path, and I list two, because they are at the forefront of my mind, but I say two or more, because there almost certainly other paths that have not thought of and do not include here, but we should not overlook them if they become apparent.
The first of the darker paths is to seek fairness by reducing what we bring to the table. Say for example that we are talking about an employee feeling taken advantage of, because the employee is not paid what he or she believes him or herself to be worth.
This is a very common thought pattern and to list this example I will use information discussed in my video “What needs to be done” For the sake of the example, lets assume that the employee believes that they are worth 10 dollars per hour, but have taken a job for 1 dollar an hour. It may be that they took the job believing this, but just as common is that they took the job feeling fine about it, and then later decided that they were worth more, and slowly they reached the conclusion that they were underpaid by a great deal.
In both cases, the fairness factor kicks in, and the employee, seeking fairness, will intentionally reduce their own effectiveness, in an attempt to create a world where fairness is served. So now, the employee who is being paid 1 dollar an hour begins to perform at a level that is below the expectations of the employer and it is here that the real drama begins.
The employer, noticing that the employee is performing at a lower than expected level, will feel taken advantage of because the implicit contract between parties is that the employee will receive 1 dollar per hour, in return for performing at the expected level and they are not. To correct this, the employer may counsel the employee, reduce his or her wages, or terminate the contract and begin anew. Proving to both parties forever, that each was taken advantage of by the other and fairness was not maintained.
If you look carefully, you will see the lies that each party told themselves. The employee, should seek employment for the amount they feel they are worth, and then perform at the expected level, and the employer, might be better served by seeking to understand the motivations of the employee, and either reassigning them to an area of more value, or creating other forms of motivation that will compensate for the perceived disparity in fairness. In this example however we began with the employee, and so the focus will remain there.
If you are an employee who believes that they are not paid enough for the performance given. Then you should seek employment at those wages or at a package that satisfies the fairness factor – you should never reduce your own effectiveness to create fairness, because following that path creates a world where you become less, and less effective as you go, until you are eventually trapped by your own actions, unable to accomplish much of anything, for anyone, including yourself.
The second of the darker paths, is where we as people will seek to remove the motivating factor from the other person. In this path, we see someone who has what we want, decide that it is not fair for them to have it, and so we go about trying to take it from them, or at the very least make sure that they do not have it.
This is particularly insidious because not only are we still in victim because we believe that we cannot have what we want, but we actively try to undermine, or rob the other of what they legitimately created for themselves (the proof that it is legitimately theirs by the way, is that they have it)
As an example let say that two good friends are working for the same company, and they started at the same time, at the same level of pay etc. Equal in every way, and over time one of the two, is promoted to higher and higher position.
The fairness factor is activated, and the second friend, choosing a dark path, decides that this is not fair, and so goes about destroying the friendship, and undermining the first friend at every turn in an attempt to return him or her to equal status and thereby create fairness.
Can you see how Victim Thinking now costs this friend so much? He or she loses the friendship, loses the promotions that may be possible (because leaders rarely see those that destroy as valuable), and may actually succeed in costing another (probably temporarily), something that they created for themselves by following the right path.
We could go further into this potential for drama if the first friend, having lost the position assumes a position of victim – but that is better covered in another post.
For now, let’s just see these two dark paths, as the wrong choice. We need to know that we can have what we want at any time, just by deciding we want it, and going after it. By keeping an open mind about HOW what we want will come to us, and by diligently chasing after whatever it is, we are sure to succeed.
Fair does not exist – Fair is a construct of the Ego, and it creates victim thinking.
If you want something, go out and get it – it is after all, your responsibility.
The curious thing about being in a victim state, is that you can see it so clearly in others, but for some reason its the hardest thing in the world to spot in ourselves. Once we start feeling sorry for ourselves and telling stories about how we have been victimized by someone or some-thing, the rest of our tools tend to warp themselves to the vision and in this way, we will see plenty of evidence to prove that we are in fact being victimized, instead of being responsible in any way. We will use logic, facts, story, feelings, and results to prove unquestionably that we were victimized.
The really cool thing to understand here, is that you actually combine two separate destructive patterns because you are (being a victim) , and you are also (being right). Naturally its not cool to be there, but its cool to understand because that can show us how to recognize this in ourselves, and how to get out of it and move into a more productive mindset.
So if you notice that the story you are telling (either to yourself or to another) places you in the role of victim, then you are in a victim state, plain and simple. If you have an anylitical mind, you will very likely be thinking “well sure but what if…(insert example)”. The thing is, no matter what your example here is, there is a difference between the event, and they way you think about it. You can choose to think that you are powerless in the world, and that things happen TO you, or you can choose to be the active player, and be responsible for everything that happens. You see no matter what, to think any other way, does not serve your best interests.
In the same way, you can nearly always identify when you are “being right”, because you can see proof everywhere that you are. If you find yourself thinking or saying “see – that’s proof”, you are being right. Remember that once upon a time, nearly the whole world believed that the earth was flat, that the earth was the center of the universe, and any of a host of other ideas that in time were proven to be false. Yet everywhere we as a people looked, there was proof and since there was proof, there was no need to question it.
When looked at in this way, it may be concluded that questioning what is obvious is both feasible and sound practice. In the case of being right, its frequently more fruitful to look for how you may not be, how there can be more than one truth, and how your insistence that you are correct, may be costing you everything…
What else can we do?
Be WRONG – not all the time, but at least allow for the possibility that you may not be correct, that they may be another perspective to see, that there may be a path outside of what you have seen thus far. Open your mind, and you will see many doors that were previously closed to you, and possibly locked.
Be Responsible for EVERYTHING – this way you are the only one who can take action, you are responsible for your failures, and also your Successes! You get to be the active player in everything. This type of thinking can only serve your highest and best interests.